HP Moves Fast To Bring 3PAR Storage Technology To Channel Partners

Hewlett-Packard has quietly made its newly acquired 3PAR storage technology one of its four primary storage business pillars going forward, and is in the process of rolling that technology out to its solution providers.

HP last month unveiled the moves to many of its solution providers in a meeting that brought them together with the vendor's entire enterprise sales team to prepare both sides for the coming changes.

Solution providers told CRN that the technology from 3PAR, which HP acquired in September, will be a major focus of HP going forward.

It joins three other product lines being pushed to the forefront by HP, two of which, like 3PAR, were recent acquisitions.

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Those two product lines are the P4000 series of virtual storage appliances, which are based on technology HP received when it acquired LeftHand Networks in late 2008, and the X9000 family of scalable NAS appliances stemming from HP's 2009 acquisition of software developer IBRIX.

The fourth pillar of HP's storage focus going forward, the StoreOnce deduplication software it introduced earlier this year, is the only one of the four which the company developed organically.

Conspicuously absent from that list is HP's EVA line of midrange storage appliances, and its XP family of enterprise-class storage arrays which HP OEMs from Hitachi.

Frank Rauch, vice president of channels for HP's Enterprise Servers, Storage, and Networking (ESSN) business, confirmed the four primary focuses of HP's storage going forward, but said HP will also continue to work with its large base of XP and EVA customers.

Chris Moore, StorageWorks Division manager for U.S. ESSN channels, disagreed that the new products means a de-emphasis of the EVA and XP storage lines.

The XP storage array family remains at the top of HP's storage product lineup for enterprise customers, and especially for mainframes, where HP's new 3PAR technology does not connect, Moore said.

The EVA, in the meantime, has a large installed base of customers, many of which run their business on it, and HP will support those customers, Moore said. "We have a roadmap out at least for the next couple years... We are already planning the launch of the next generation of EVA," he said.

Next: Prepping The Channel For 3PAR

HP acquired 3PAR because of its industry-leading storage efficiency and management and the fact that it is ready for use in both public and private storage clouds, Rauch said.

"So the market will gravitate to 3PAR over time," he said. "But we want to work with our EVA base."

Rauch and Moore confirmed channel sources who said that HP is already in the process of a major rollout of its 3PAR storage technology to solution providers.

HP started training its partners on the 3PAR technology three weeks ago, and already trained 1,700 sales reps and engineers working for its solution providers. The company last week also trained an additional 1,500 sales reps and engineers in more traditional direct-to-market reseller partners, many of whom such as CDW and Insight have services arms, he said.

Moore said HP's 3PAR lineup went live with partners on December 1, at which time the technology also became part of HP's PartnerOne partner program. HP in February plans to roll out new 3PAR certification programs for partners, he said.

He said that HP has been in touch with its 87 HP Storage Elite partners, its traditional direct-to-market partners, and an additional 250 to 300 solution providers, about working with 3PAR.

Rauch said he could not comment on channel sources who said that HP has hired about 200 new storage sales reps and sales assistants to work with its storage channel partners, but he did say that the business is growing strong and that HP is hiring.

Several solution providers said that HP has moved more quickly to integrate its 3PAR storage line into its channel program than it did for other acquired products in the past.

Mark Teter, CTO of Advanced Systems Group, a Denver-based solution provider and partner to both HP and Oracle-Sun, said his company contacted 3PAR in 2001, but didn't sign up because the company had no channel strategy.

However, Teter said, now that HP owns 3PAR, Advanced Systems Group is ramping up for the new product line.

"Working with the HP sales organization is going to give 3PAR visibility and longevity in the market," he said. "HP is one of the best vendors we've worked with. We always thought Sun had a good program, but oh my gosh HP is electrified. We're ramping up."

Next: Partners Say HP Will Capitalize On Storage Acquisitions

Like ASG, Lilien Systems also talked to 3PAR years ago and backed away from the company, said Dhruv Gulati, executive vice president of the Larkspur, Calif.-based HP solution provider.

"It had good technology," Gulati said. "But it was a very small, lean company. If there had been more channel traction at the company, we might have signed on before."

However, Gulati said, Lilien is now looking forward to working with the 3PAR technology. "It's good for our midrange customers, and for the high-end, too," he said.

Gulati said he does not see the 3PAR products replacing EVA in the short term. "But over the long-term, it will," he said. "I don't see why HP would have two virtualized storage offerings. At some point, HP may converge their development."

The fact that three of the four storage technologies HP will focus on going forward come from acquisitions shows how HP's investment in storage technology has fared, Gulati said.

"It tells us that HP in the last five to seven years hasn't spent as much on storage R&D," he said. "At some point, that will bite you in the back. But it's a non sequitur. If you have best-of-breed products and own the IP (intellectual property), that's not an issue. HP has the rights to those technologies, and can continue their development."

John Convery, executive vice president of vendor relations and marketing at Denali Advanced Integration, a Redmond, Wash.-based solution provider and HP partner, said the speed at which HP is bringing the 3PAR products to market demonstrates how the vendor has moved to decentralize its decision-making process.

"In the past, HP was like a battleship: slow to turn," Convery said. "Now they're moving in nanoseconds. Randy Seidle (HP vice president for ESSN Americas sales) is empowered. Frank Rauch is empowered. They don't need to check with anyone else to make a decision. Nobody is afraid to make a decision at HP in real-time."

Nobody at HP from the top down was really happy with HP's storage business, Convery said. "And they're going to do something about it... HP knows they need to move fast. They're investing up front to drive growth."